Olé! Musica Latina Strikes the Right Chord

Staff Writer

With Mexican flags flanking each side of the stage of the Sweetwater Municipal Auditorium, the final concert of the 2017-2018 APPLAUSE Series drew to a rather proper close. Fittingly, Musica Latina ended a very successful APPLAUSE season on Cinco de Mayo, of all days.
Musica Latina opened Cinco de Mayo with Mexico 2000 Ballet Folklorico. The Ballet Folklorico was directed by Alex and Mary Palencia. On the bill was also Mariachi Los Matadores, the Texas Tech Mariachi Band, directed by Lauren Salazar, PhD. Tickets were on sale at the Chamber of Commerce and were also sold at the door prior to the concert. APPLAUSE members and event patrons were invited to an authentic Mexican food reception at First United Methodist Church following the festive concert.
As the lights dimmed, Aida, Kevin & Katie Pantoja walked out on stage, introduced themselves and graciously welcomed the packed house. Dressed in a tuxedo, Kevin served as Master of Ceremonies for Musica Latina.
The Pantojas have been APPLAUSE members and generous volunteers and financial donors since the Series’ inception. Aida has served as Event Chair for all four Musica Latina events. This year, the family is also Individual Event Sponsor for Musica Latina through their generous financial generosity. Ms. Pantoja owns Mexico Lindo Restaurant in Roscoe. She lives in Roscoe and is active also with Nolan County and Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce, 4-H and Highland ISD where Katie is a senior. Katie is active in 4-H, theater and is twirler with the band. She was recently selected as Highland Prom Queen. Kevin attends Abilene Christian University where he has excelled in leadership positions. He serves on the Hispanic Leadership Council and is active in Knights of Columbus.
Aida Pantoja, APPLAUSE Series’ Musica Latina Event Chair, was excited that the Texas Tech Mariachi Band, Los Matadores, came to Sweetwater for Cinco de Mayo. Pantoja first heard the band at the Paramount Theater in Abilene last year. She immediately contacted APPLAUSE Director Mila Gibson and said, “This is the best mariachi group I have heard outside of Mexico. We have got to bring them to our Musica Latina.” Amusingly, when Pantoja learned that the 2018 event would occur on the actual Cinco de Mayo, she said, “Oh, no. We will never get them on that holiday. Everyone will want them then.” But to her joy and to the credit of Gibson’s great intuitive theatrical leaning, Gibson informed Ms. Pantoja that she had all ready contracted the band. “I booked them immediately Aida” Gibson told her. “Your recommendation was enough for me. We booked them over a year early.”